Posted 12/3/15 – Operatic Tenor, mentor & entrepreneur Mario Anthony Lalli passed away peacefully at his home in Sierra Madre, CA on October 8th, 2015 at the age of 92. Mario was predeceased by his wife of 44 years, Edalyn Doris Lalli. Mario was born in Springfield, MA in 1923 to Italian immigrants Antonio Lalli and Giacinta Lalli. He was the youngest of four children, sister Dora Cummings (Lalli) and was predeceased by his two older brothers Tullio Lalli and Roland Lalli.
Mario’s life was greatly centered around his passion for music, particularly the Opera. His love for music started very young. At 10 years old, he was a fixture at his uncle’s record shop, listening to the great operatic composers as well as the popular Italian singers of of the era. As a teenager in Springfield, Mario began singing in the Mount Carmel Choir, where he was discovered by the Springfield opera company. He toured with the company and was featured in many local performances. Moving to New York in the late 40’s to pursue his music career, Mario studied in a vocal program at the Juilliard conservatory and eventually toured in a New York based opera company. In 1950, the talented tenor was a winner on the famous CBS Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts Radio show, sharing the honor with such stars as comedian Lenny Bruce.
In 1952 at age 28, he partnered with his brother Tullio Lalli and fellow singer Tish Klongia, and headed to the burgeoning ski resort of Aspen, CO with the dream of opening a restaurant that featured live entertainment. “Mario’s, Where They Sing While You Dine” was such a success it would last another 60 years. The restaurant concept would open 13 locations over the years, where Mario and his wife Edalyn would sing six nights a week, entertaining diners in Denver CO, Palm Springs CA, San Diego CA, Newport Beach CA, Palm Desert CA, Ranch Mirage CA, La Quinta CA, Pasadena CA, and finally in Sierra Madre CA, where Mario at the age of 88 years old was still a featured performer, often singing duets with his 17-year old granddaughter, Olive Lalli. In addition to his entrepreneurial endeavours and vocal talents, Mario was a mentor, offering guidance, financial support and opportunity to many singers and musicians over the years. Traveling to Opera houses all over the US and Europe with his wife Edalyn every summer was something he loved, as well as golfing. Every day off you could find Mario and his brothers on the golf course. Mario Lalli and the restaurants he created were featured in the documentary film “Sing Your Own Song” by director Anne O’Neal.
Mario spent the last 15 years in the Pasadena CA area, living with his son’s family. He is survived by his son, Mario Enrico Lalli , daughter-in-law Illiana Lalli and his grandchildren Dino Von Lalli and Olive Zoe Lalli; sister Dora Cummings, stepdaughter Sharie Harmon & family, stepson Edward Burger & family, as well as dear friend and partner Estrella Formoe.
If you wish to make a donation in Mario A. Lalli’s honor, please make all donations to The Sweet Stuff Foundation. This charity helps provide assistance to musicians, recording engineers, and their families struggling with illness and disability. Donation information: https://www.thesweetstufffoundation.org.
A celebration of Mario’s life will take place from 4 to 9pm on Saturday, Dec. 5th at the Santa Anita Church Ballroom, 226 W. Colorado Blvd. in Arcadia, CA 91008